After 2 flights on SQ 26, finally I get to try SQ 25. In the past, it was easier to redeem the Suites on SQ 26 but it seems to be the opposite now. Despite 2 devaluation, Suites on SQ 25 and SQ 26 remains elusive (except for Advantage tickets)!
The flight was previously operated using the All-Business class upper deck cabin but since June 1, it has been changed to the older A380 (with upper deck rear-economy section). Although this reduces the number of Business Class seats on this flight, the overall number of Business Class seats into and out of New York has increased with the reintroduction of SQ21/22 in October 2018.
As the 2007 Suites cabin had been extensively written by many, I shall only write on the differences with SQ 26 on the ground, service and food & beverage experience.
Unlike Changi Airport, New York JFK Airport can be chaotic. Although check in was a breeze, getting through the security can be nightmarish! Despite having a Priority Line, do expect a long queue especially since the Priority Line eventually merged with the general line. Thankfully, ALL counters were operational hence the line was constantly moving (contrary to the line that was stagnant on arrival from Panama City).
Once through, one can proceed to the Virgin Clubhouse which is the lounge used by Singapore Airlines for passengers flying in Suites. Unlike the one in Newark, this Virgin Clubhouse is excellent and more about it on a later post.
In Frankfurt, one no longer has to go through the complicated maze of Frankfurt Airport for security screening. Upon disembarking, you will be straight at the gate and after a short walk you will reach the Senator Lounge. Walk a little further and up the escalator and you should reach the Maple Leaf Lounge (in the past, you would reach the Maple Leaf Lounge first before Senator Lounge). Despite the absence of security screening, you still have an escort bringing you from the door to the lounge.
This is the 2007 Suite which made its debut with 9V-SKA (which has since been dismantled) on its inaugural to Sydney. Since then, a new Suite came out in 2017 that fly to only select destinations and it is extremely hard to get on saver award.
I still find the 2007 Suites a pleasure to fly in. Although each individual suite is smaller, the overall cabin space is much larger than the new Suites on the upper deck – giving me more stretching space to walk around.
Since last year, the headphones in First Class has been changed from Bose QC25 to B&O H9i. The clarity of the B&O is on par if not slightly better than the Bose, but I still feel that Bose offers a much better Noise Cancellation. The B&O is heavier and sturdier for sure. Not an issue for normal usage but I tend to sleep with the headphone on and it is less comfortable to sleep with these than with the QC25.
Wifi speed was horrible – I could not even do a speed test on board. Sending text on Whatsapp was ok, uploading or downloading pictures was almost impossible. So was net surfing. Without Boingo, data was limited to just 100 Mb.
On both legs, 11 out of 12 Suites were occupied. The crew were certainly busy with such a load. Even Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy class looked fully occupied. SQ 25 is indeed a very popular flight (despite the reintroduction of SQ21/22). Despite that, the friendly SQ service is still there (nothing beats my SQ 619 experience to date). On the first leg, Inflight Manager Swee Hee had been checking on me constantly to make sure that I am ok.
On my second leg, Leading Steward Andre stood out with his humour as well as showing off some culinary art! Special mention goes to Chief Stewards Mazlan and Desmond, Leading Stewardess Samantha and Leading Steward Vick.
On my past 2 trips, both pyjamas and amenity kits were given on both legs. For this flight, amenity kit was only given for the first leg but pyjamas was given on both legs.
Food & Beverage
While SQ 26 has no full meal service (4 meals being supper, breakfast, brunch and light lunch), SQ 25 has 2 full meal service (dinner ex-JFK and lunch ex-FRA). What this means is that there will be caviar course on these 2 meals and also satay ex-FRA! Unfortunately due to the long delay of the SQ 26, the satay from Singapore could not be transferred onto our flight so we ended up with a poor substitution.
This was the menu for my flight:
These were our main meal selections:
Braised Short Ribs
Steamed Cod Fillet with Fried Soy Bean Crumbs
Suckling Pig with Beer Sauce
Prawn Wanton Noodle Soup
Deliciously Wholesome Farro and Avocado Salad with Ballontine of Chicken in Red Capsicum, Lime and Jalapeno Dressing
Breakfast on arrival into Frankfurt was a simple continental breakfast, but I decided to skip it as I wanted to catch my sleep. It consists of just a glass of juice, yoghurt or muesli, bakery and fruits.
Cod fillet as always, is an excellent choice on board. The braised short ribs was much better than the western beef I have had on SQ flights. The beef was tender and juicy, easy to bite and chew on.
Lobster thermidor on my last 2 flights out of Frankfurt had been excellent – likewise this time. The only difference? The size – here are the 3 lobsters side by side for comparison. The lobster is still excellent though – excellent texture, not mushy not too rubbery. Lobster Ex-FRA has been consistent with a score of 3/3!
Suckling pig has received some good reviews on both SQtalk and Flyertalk – there is none of the typical pork smell which I dislike and the meat was not overcooked. However, the sauce was a little too salty for my liking.
Prawn wanton noodle soup was a great way to welcome us back to Singapore with the large juicy wanton and the clear soup.
I have never tried the wholesome meal before until now (never seemed impressed with what was described) and I would say it is not a bad choice. It would have been better if they include some leafy vegetable in it and a little too much grain (farro). The Jalapeno dressing gave the salad and chicken the taste. I even managed to add on an egg into my salad (thanks Andre for the egg).
I managed to squeeze some space out to try the Egg Noodle – it came with 2 very large tail-on prawns which was pretty fresh!
The Krug 2004 must have been so popular that it ran out after just the first leg! I had only one glass of it on the first leg and when I tried to ask for one before take-off from Frankfurt, I was told there isn’t any left! First world (or First Class) problem – hahahaahah!
Even my favourite sweetened walnut ran out on my second leg!
Although I had a very good sleep on the first leg (about 4 hours), second leg was not as good (probably about 3 hours). This was probably due to the noon take off time from Frankfurt. Nevertheless, this was much better than when I flew back from Munich with zero sleep!
On touchdown, The Private Room is the obvious place to freshen up before going home. Not before some local fares first!
I guess I can’t complain much given that I had managed to score 3 Suites redemption on the JFK route since 2015. Going forward, the miles needed for this route is getting more expensive It was 187,000 miles for my 2 one way tickets back in 2015 and 2017; 240,000 miles for my this trip and from Jan 2019, 264,000 miles! A massive 41% devaluation in slightly less than 2 years. Despite that, availability is harder to come by. I foresee that my future trips into North America will most likely be in Business Class.